The dolphin family is one of the most diverse groups of marine mammals on the planet. Including species like the bottlenose and orca whale, the dolphin family has inhabited Earth’s oceans for the past six million years…or so scientist thought!
A new study by researchers at Waseda University in Japan shows that dolphins have existed for over twice the time originally thought. The discovery of the skull of the Eodelphis kabatensis provides important insight into the early evolutionary life of the dolphin species. While the origins of the dolphin remains unknown, this does signify one step closer to understanding the history of the species writ-large.
This incredibly discovery also brings another important issue to light…the fact that dolphins have resided in the world’s oceans for over 13 MILLION years and yet, in modern times we are seeing the quick disappearance of this seemingly staple species. Despite the dolphin’s long residence in the world’s oceans human interaction with the species is causing their populations to dwindle at alarming rates!
Between overfishing, dolphin captivity programs, commercial slaughter, and pollution this historically resilient species is being wiped from the face of the Earth by our own doing! The new discovery of the Eodelphis kabatensis could give scientists insight into how dolphins have evolved and adapted to maintain their place in the world’s seas, but there is little question to the current challenges facing dolphins. The dolphin species has evolved over the span of millions of years, perhaps given a few more million years they will be able to adapt to getting caught in trawl nets or develop the ability to see through water pollution…but at the alarming rate they’re being knocked off I would wager it is humans that need to evolve.
Image source: Faraj Meir / Wikipedia Commons